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vegan coconut curry chick’n tenders skillet with spring greens & freekeh

by Jackie Newgent  |  April 1, 2019  |  1 Comment

April is Earth Month. And April 22 is Earth Day. So, this is the best time of year to set new green goals. Do you have one yet? If not, here are two simple things you can do … eat more plant-based or eat more seasonally (or both). And this meal is definitely a delicious way to bring both of those goals to life in your cuisine!

When going plant-based, you can do total swaps for meat, like using mushrooms or beans in its place. This is ideal! Alternatively, you can use a plant-based food that’s crafted to be similar to its animal-based counterpart, like you’ll do here. Some find this approach to be a really helpful way to transition from eating meat to going meatless. This vegan skillet fix features Gardein 7 Grain Crispy Tenders, which are basically a plant version of chicken fingers. (FYI: The tenders contain plant protein derived from soybeans and wheat, which is important to know if you have allergies or intolerances.) As a bonus, they’re non-GMO. Bake them in a toaster oven rather than a conventional oven to save energy, if possible. Then you’ll season them with curry powder and black pepper for globally-inspired appeal.

The springtime veggies in this recipe include baby spinach and scallions. You can add any grain you like, but I love making this curry-style meal with cracked freekeh—which gets a punch of flavor from gingerroot here. (Hint: Remember to cook the freekeh or other grain in advance!) Then all of these ingredients get “married” together with coconut milk for a seasonal skillet full of scrumptiousness. Happy Earth Month my fellow earthlings!

Note: This blog post is part of the Gardein + Meatless Monday Earth Day recipe showcase: “Host a delicious Earth Day ‘clean-up’ event at home with these sustainable, plant-based Meatless Monday recipes.” I received Gardein product samples for development of this recipe.


vegan coconut curry chick’n tenders skillet with spring greens & freekeh

Yield: 4 servings

Serving size: about 2 cups



  • 1 (9-ounce) package Gardein 7 Grain Crispy Tenders
  • ¾ teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 ounces fresh baby spinach or chopped chard
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons avocado oil or other oil
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced, green and white parts separated
  • 1½ teaspoons grated fresh gingerroot
  • 2 cups pre-cooked, unseasoned cracked freekeh or other grain, chilled
  • 1 cup organic coconut milk, divided*
  • 1 fresh red hot chili pepper, extra thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves or microgreens
  • 3 tablespoons sliced natural almonds, toasted (optional)



  1. Preheat toaster oven or conventional oven to 430°F. Bake frozen tenders on a baking sheet until crispy, about 20 minutes, turning once. Remove from oven and season with the curry powder and black pepper.
  2. Heat a large cast iron or other stick-resistant skillet over medium. Add the spinach a handful at a time; cook while tossing until just wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.
  3. Add the oil to the hot skillet over medium. Add the white part of the scallions and ginger; cook while stirring until scallion whites are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the freekeh, green part of the scallions, ½ cup of the coconut milk, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt; cook while stirring until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  4. Push the grain mixture to one side of the skillet to fill about 1/3 of the skillet. Return greens to fill center of the skillet. Add the tenders to remaining 1/3 skillet. Drizzle everything with remaining ½ cup coconut milk, cover, and cook over medium until flavors combine and everything is steamy hot, about 4 minutes. (Hint: If you prefer a more stew-like consistency, simply drizzle in vegetable broth to taste.) Adjust seasoning.
  5. Top with hot pepper, cilantro and, if using, almonds. Serve.

Per serving: 350 calories, 20g total fat, 11g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 800mg sodium, 33g total carbohydrate, 6g dietary fiber, 1g total sugars includes 0g added sugars, 15g protein


*If using a 13.5 fluid ounce can of coconut milk, you’ll have about ½ cup leftover coconut milk. Store it in a small jar in the fridge. Then plan to use it over the next day or two, such as part of the cooking liquid for rice or oatmeal, the “cream” for making “creamed” greens, or a flavorful smoothie addition.

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